Animation 101: The Blender Pipeline (part one)

Hey Guys! Lately I’ve been testing a new method in creating characters in Blender. It is something many people use and it seems to be very effective.  So today, as a part of my Animation 101 series, I decided to share it with you!

Since this is only part one, I’m going to be talking about,  as detailed as possible, the first step of the pipeline, modeling.
This is the step that will take the longest. For me, at least. This step is the step that will determine the success of the later steps. If your model doesn’t have the proper topology, not only will the animation be poor, but texturing and rigging will be noticeably harder and messier. 

The vocabulary words for this lesson are as followed:

1. Mesh – A mesh is a three-dimensional object made up of various vertices and faces.

2. Vertex – A single point in a mesh.

3. Edge – A group of two vertices connected to create a straight line.

4. Face –  A group of edges connected to create a polygon.

5. Polygon – A basic two-dimensional shape.
Remember them. We will be saying them a lot in this lesson.

The method of modeling I use is divided into two steps; Sculpting and Retopology.

The first step is where you sculpt the character in sculpt mode. Where else? Don’t go to edit mode yet. Everything must be sculpted in the sculpt mode interface. 

I like to use the “Dynamic Topology” feature when sculpting.  It doesn’t just change the mesh in appearance,  but it also adds more geometry to the mesh. Limbs can be extruded out of the mesh, and new geometry is created. Sculpting the model gives you more control over the mesh.

Using sculpt tools and a reference photo (if you have one), a basic sculpt of the character is created. There are no textures or particle systems yet. Just the model is there for now.

Aftet the basic sculpt is finished, the retopology process begins. Retopology is when the sculpted mesh is built over with a second, better layed out, model. Vertices are placed in areas that will help deformation later on. 

Usually I look at a reference photo when modeling in the Retopology step. I just look up “Retopology” in Google Images and just choose which photo suits the project I am working on.

This step is rather hard to explain. So for more information and Retopology techniques, look for some videos on the internet.

And that’s step one of the Blender Pipeline! Next time, I’ll talk about step two in the pipeline,  Rigging!

I hope you learned reading this, and if you want to see more of these lessons be sure to follow me and a click of the like button would be most appreciated.

See you later, Animators!


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